Jane Bown Photograpy

Edith Sitwell, 1959

Rudolf Nureyev, 1964

Margot Fonteyn, 1964

Angelica Garnet, 1979

Doris Lessing, 2001

Jane Bown is  an 83 year-old portrait photographer whose work has been appearing in The Observer since 1949, when she was commissioned by the magazine to photograph Bertrand Russell. Her work is now collected in a book, Exposures, featuring her most celebrated portraits of the famous and ordinary people. Legendarily shy and self-effacing, she works quickly, quietly and unobtrusively, using only available daylight and never with an assistant. She has once said: "Some photographers make pictures, but I try to find them," perhaps referring to the common practice of excessively elaborate set-ups involved in celebrity portraiture. 

I am most drawn to her photographs of women, but overall, but overall, what I like most about her work is how real the people come through in these photographs. With all contemporary celebrity portraiture being an exercise in Photoshop, it is so refreshing to see real skin, real drama written across these faces.

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